February 13th, 2010
12:34 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama hails return of 'pay-go'

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is wasting no time touting his own efforts to impose fiscal discipline and intimating, in the process, that Capitol Hill and the prior administration did not do enough to keep runaway deficit spending under control.

Friday Obama signed into law a record $1.9 trillion increase in the federal government's borrowing cap. The legislation, which passed Congress largely along party lines, raised the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion.

The measure also enacted a statutory, pay-as-you-go, or "pay-go," procedure requiring lawmakers to find ways to pay for proposed spending increases or tax cuts by offsetting them with higher taxes or reduced spending elsewhere in the budget.

In his weekly radio and Internet address out Saturday, Obama is lauding the return of the ‘pay-go’ requirement.

“It was this rule that helped lead to balanced budgets in the 1990s, by making clear that we could not increase entitlement spending or cut taxes simply by borrowing more money. And it was the abandonment of this rule that allowed the previous administration and previous congresses to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and create an expensive new drug program without paying for any of it. Now in a perfect world, Congress would not have needed a law to act responsibly, to remember that every dollar spent would come from taxpayers today – or our children tomorrow.”

“But this isn’t a perfect world,” continues Obama. “This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.”

“Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else,” the president also says in Saturday’s address.

In addition to the return of the “pay-go” rule, Obama also mentions spending cuts he has proposed in his latest budget blueprint; his recently announced proposal to freeze nondiscretionary, nonsecurity spending for three years; and his plan to create a bipartisan fiscal commission by executive order.

Related: Senate nixes debt commission

“After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” the president also says in Saturday’s address. “It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do.”

In a statement released Friday evening after Obama signed the law increasing the debt ceiling and re-imposing “pay-go,” Republican National Committee Chairman Steele slammed the president.

“With a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history,” Steele says. “If the president thinks he can hide his embarrassing binge spending habit behind a thin fig leaf like PAYGO, then he truly has hit rock bottom.”

Filed under: national debt • President Obama
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Is Obama afraid of Cheney and why?

    Pay as you go is great.Why pay interest rates borrowing the money like republicans like to do,unless of course you leave the bill for the Dems to pay like Reagan did.Is Cheney still president and why isnt he in prison?

    February 13, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. Carl Justus

    I hope he makes it stick by vetoing any and all bills that does not adnere stictly to the rule. I do not care if is a pork for a democrat or a republican, if it is in the bill that comes to his desk he should veto in immediately.
    If shuts down the government so be it. Let it shut down the government including his and the congress's pay. The congress is worthless in the first place. The democrats do not have the guts to say what they want, they have to consult the polls first and the only words the republicans know are tax cuts and No.
    For six years they spent like drunken out of control teenagers and borrowed to hilt to pay the bills while racking up massive debt and interest payments.

    The republicans are owned by the lobbyists and do their bidding instead of those who sent them to Washington.

    February 13, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. jp,michigan

    I am amazed that these is coming from Obama. The only way he is paying for what he wants, is to raise the debt ceiling on the Hill. Social security and medicare is in trouble because the government barrowed money from both and never paid it back. Pay as you go is a joke , a joke on the american people.

    February 13, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. Dean

    I have just increased the deficit more than any person in our history and now I want to start touting the pay as you go phrase. Hope people don't think I have closed the gate after the horse has left. No, they are to stupid to think that.

    February 13, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. katiec

    Perhaps this will help get rid of some of the pork, eamarks, unacceptable spending attached to all policies.
    Every politician seems to think irresponsible of our taxpayer dollars spending relates to every one but theirselves. Buying votes, catering to big business etc for campaign funding and personal gains have taken a priority for far too long.
    We must see to it that those who represent us put our country and us first, pay go is a first good step.

    February 13, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    BHO is the antithesis of "fiscal discipline" and for them to state "intimate that Capitol Hill and the prior administration did not do enough to keep runaway deficit spending under control is disingenuous after he expanded the deficit 4 times the last and plans on increasing the debt by 10 trillion dollars more than double what GWD did.....what a liar in chief we have and we have so many sheeple in the citizenry that believe every word he said no matter how devoid of fact they are and no matter how many times he has lied to you in the past.....this guy is joke but I think his followers are the biggest joke of them all and it would be funny if it wasn't so detrimental to our country.....how sad!

    And PS – BHO voted for every spending bill in 2007-08 that HIS congres pushed thru....he caused what he supposedly "inherited"!

    February 13, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Tom in Delaware

    More talk like 'transparency' and 'bi-partisanship'....In case no one has noticed, this guy is spending more money than all the other presidents combined....(BTW-that's not George Bush's fault.)

    Obama's gotta go...

    February 13, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. ohbrother

    Pay as you go is the only way any government should be ran; it is just a shame that they include it with raising the debt ceiling so the opposition to the debt ceiling is made to look like the bad guys.

    February 13, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Ryan

    Uh Oh... this means the tired old republican talking point of "Obama is a tax n spend liberal!" is actually moot (as it always was).

    Republicans taxed us, and spent triple that on wars.

    February 13, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. D.D.

    I am lost. I can't tell who's on first- no who's on base? This is all too far gone by bpth parties. Everyone should hide their faces while outside until they stop worrying about the next election and DO SOMETHING TOGETHER SO WE CAN BELIEVE AGAIN.

    February 13, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Death Panel Sarah

    If the Reptili'con's are the 'fiscally responsible' ones, then why is it ALWAYS the democratic party that enacts/re-inacts this measure?????

    All the 'con's voted against being 'fiscally responsible'......BIG SURPRISE!!!!

    Are you 'baggers watching THIS?????

    February 13, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Death Panel Sarah


    Can't Steele read?????(or hear???)

    February 13, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. valwayne

    What a corrupt joke! Who does Obama think he's fooling. He prepares a budget with trillions and trillions and trillion in corrupt spending and endless debt that could destroy our nation and then plays some publicity game with Paygo? What a corrupt sad joke!

    February 13, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. AJAlfaro

    Since President Liar has taken office the national debt is now on steroids.

    February 13, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Death Panel Sarah

    The deficit would have been paid off by now, if Bush hadn't been (I know he really wasn't) elected!!! He destroyed our prosperity!!!

    February 13, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Nimises

    Steele, where you there when the budget showed a surplus? PayGo is largely responsible. Now. You also failed to mention the increase in the deficit while Bush was in office. Where was your anger then? Seems I remember you sailing along the high waters saying YES! Now, you seem bitter for someone who leads with NOs. Paygo needs to stay permanently.

    February 13, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. rob

    The fine print on this Pay-Go is that it won't go into effect untill next years budget. The President just sent a budget to Congress increasing spending for the next fiscal year on top of the increased "Base Line" budgeting adopted by the Stymulus bill that was promised as a ONE TIME payment. So The President is asking for unfunded increases in spending and a historical increase in the Debt ceiling to pay for it for this year.

    The President "Touting" Pay-Goo now is the preverbial closing the barn door after the cows a out. It is perfect double speak that the President needs to be called out on.

    The fact that CNN along with the other Obama cheerleading MSM won't give us this context is the major reason why people are leaving these outlets in droves.

    We need a new Congress to keep the Dems in check before they bankrupt the country.

    Nov. can't come fast enough.

    February 13, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  18. Willy Brown

    CNN and the rest of the Barry loving media who made this guy. How long you going to keep putting this guy out front likes he’s the best thing since peanut butter? He’s making you all look so irreverent and bias.

    February 13, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. terry,va.

    Yes after you have spent money that the next 3 generations will have to pay. It's too late to try to come to the center, Obummie. One and done you socialist!!!

    February 13, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    Yup, we pay, they all Go to a party !

    February 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Marc

    Well said Mr. President, VERY WELL SAID.
    I read about the 'pay-go' (and other similar strategies/postures of governments in the US History) in the past few days since, I admit, I wasn't very sure of what it actually meant.
    But it's just like you said: 'pay-go' = RESPONSABILITY.
    It'sgood to see it back...

    February 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Albert R.,Killackey, Esq. L.A., CA

    Reagan was a master at using euphemisms calling the notion of paying for something when you use it, “liberal tax and spend” politics. Yet his borrow and splurge policies increased the national debt more than every president before him combined. Then George H.W. Bush and George W, Bush each out borrowed and splurged their predecessors. All that monet they spent went to their global corporate friends. Since Reagan, only Clinton left a surplus.

    Reagan destroyed the New Deals protections of the middle class with his deregulation (lawlessness) of Wall Street allowing global corporations to transfer the wealth of America’s middle class to their global corporate economy. Now Arab nations are building the world’s tallest buildings, Europe and Asia have the world’s fastest trains, China and India are aiming to the moon, and every civilized nation has universal health care but us. This mess did not happen since Obama was elected. Obama was elected because this mess happened and Republican global corporate sympathizers are obstructing him from changing it.

    February 13, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. cph9680

    Blame, blame, blame...It's gotten to the point where I can't even listen to you for four minutes without being sick!

    February 13, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Sue

    This is a joke........right??

    The ONLY thing that is going to stop Obama's spending..........Is when the Democrats lose power/control through the 2010 elections, and Obama becomes a lame duck.

    Only 10 more months until the elections..........And, the lunacy of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid comes to an end.

    February 13, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Jack

    To my way of thinking; Mr. Steele, if you want me to return to the Republican Party, that is not way you encourage me!

    For now you, Rush "Over the Cliff" Limbaugh, Insanity Hanity, Pat "Foot and Mouth" Robertson and the Republican Party can go take a flying leap.

    February 13, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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